S,Korea-based soldier nominated for MacArthur leadership award
January 29, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — A South Korea-based Army warrant officer who “has the air of a soldier and exudes leadership with every action” is in the running for a prestigious Armywide leadership award.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Sankey is a nominee for a General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award for 2004.
The award, named for the late Army general, Douglas MacArthur, recognizes outstanding military performance, leadership and achievement. The General Douglas MacArthur Foundation and Department of the Army award it annually to company-grade and junior warrant officers.
Sankey, 35, is an information management officer for the Area IV Support Activity at Camp Carroll in Waegwan. His office, part of the Installation Management Agency Korea Region Office, oversees a major computer network at Camp Carroll.
An Army selection board will choose 12 active-duty officer nominees this month from 23 major commands and one field operating agency, and one warrant officer nominee from 14 major commands and one field operating agency. The board will announce its selections March 1.
The award ceremony and reception, in May at the Pentagon, is to be hosted by the Army chief of staff and General Douglas MacArthur Foundation. Winners will receive an engraved 15-pound bronze bust of MacArthur, an engraved wristwatch from the Association of the United States Army and a commendation memorandum from the Army chief of staff for placement in the winner’s official personnel file.
In nominating Sankey, the Camp Carroll installation commander, Wilfred Plumley, wrote that he’s “a natural leader” who “demonstrates a tremendous military bearing and inspires others to excel. … Subordinates want to follow him and will go above and beyond to ensure that his orders are carried out.
“He has the right mix of discipline and compassion that instills trust and dedication in those serving under him. … an outstanding officer and a true leader in every sense of the word,” Plumley wrote.
The Florida native said he wanted to be a soldier from boyhood. In 1986, at 17, he enlisted. Later, after a five-year break in active service, he re-entered active duty in 1997. From that year to 2001, he was in the 3rd U.S. Infantry, the Old Guard, which carries out ceremonial tasks in the Washington, D.C., area, such as guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sankey said he had risen to the rank of staff sergeant when, in 2001, he became a Signal branch warrant officer.
Plumley called Sankey into his office one morning last month and said he was nominating him for a MacArthur Award.
“I was kind of dumbfounded at first,” said Sankey — who said he immediately thought of the only officer he’s known who won the award: his former company commander in the Old Guard’s Echo Company, then-Capt. Milford Beagle, whom Sankey is quick to acknowledge guided and encouraged him.
“That was the guy I just respected above all,” Sankey said. He credited Beagle for his MacArthur nomination “because he mentored me. … gave me a lot of tips on leadership. … He basically told me that he saw a lot of leadership potential in me. If he saw me doing something a little off-track, he would let me do it. Afterwards he would call me in, ‘Look, Sgt. Sankey, you might want to do it this way.’ He gave me a lot of good tips on making sure that my soldiers were squared away. He was just down in the dirt with the soldiers; he was all about taking care of them.”
Sankey said his own approach to leadership makes priorities both of accomplishing the mission and maintaining his troops’ well-being and readiness.
“The mission always has to be accomplished and you’re going to do what you have to do to do that,” Sankey said, “but the soldiers always have to be taken care of … making sure that they’re equipped, that they’re trained.”
Within days of Sankey’s arrival at Camp Carroll last summer, Plumley said, he saw good things in how the chief warrant officer tackled his new computer network duties.
“The first thing he did,” Plumley said, “was, without any direction,” go “on his own to all the various sections to determine what we had, what the condition of it was and what we needed. And then, on his own initiative … [he] began to work the system to get what we need, both hardware and software.”
Sankey was “flabbergasted that I would think that highly of him,” Plumley said. “He’s somewhat of a humble guy … very professional, very qualified, aggressive in doing his work, but not a guy who’s looking for people to always tell him how great he is.”
Sankey, who lives with his wife and two sons, said his wife reacted with humor the day he told her of his nomination.
“She just told me I had a big head,” he said. “Seriously, she said, ‘Oh, Mr. Big Head, huh?’”